For example, a geneticist might want to alter a mouse's genotype in an experiment and learn what happens when the animal becomes highly responsive to fear challenges. "It would be interesting to see if the amygdala, (a brain center related to emotional arousal), is really smaller or larger in the animal," Johnson said. "However, if you do conventional histology, the animal brain shrinks when it is dried or prepared in alcohol, sometimes by about 40 percent. Because of variability, that would make it challenging to measure. This atlas provides a reference to measure against."
The team was also able to digitally segment 37 unique brain structures using the three different data acquisition strategies.
Scientists obtained images of brains from eight mice of the most frequently used strain of laboratory mice (C57BL), aged 66-78 days old. They registered the images together and created both an average and a probabilistic brain for reference. The average and probabilistic brains provide quantitative measure of variability. "It was truly remarkable how alike these structures were from brain to brain," he said.
All of the data is available on the web: www.civm.duhs.duke.edu/neuro201001.
As new data is gathered from other sources, researchers will be able to register it to the same coordinate system, which will promote data sharing, Johnson said. For example the Duke group has recently added data also at the highest resolution yet attained that allows definition of fiber tracts connecting different part
|Contact: Mary Jane Gore|
Duke University Medical Center